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Clifford Geertz’s Contribution Anthropology Summary Essay

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Updated: Sep 6th, 2021

In the field of Anthropology, one of the most important aspects is the conceptual analysis and organization. The main issue revolves on the characteristics of the human civilization and the interaction and interrelationship through the course of history. There are important personalities that offered their knowledge and career in the study of the patterns and ideas related to the way people live and interact in the society in relation to a dynamic interplay of factors.

One of the most important personalities in the field of Anthropology and even in related fields is Clifford Geertz. He recognized as one of the important contributors of the concept and ideas in modern sociology and anthropology. Basically his contributions to anthropology are during the period near WWII (Geertz, 2000a).

The aim of the study undertaken is to attempt the establishment of a summary of the different concepts that he contributed. This can be considered important on the fact that his writings can be considered as essential and of important utility in multidisciplinary method. During his career, there are different concepts that are essential and are complied in relation to undertake the process.

The Contributions

The conceptual contributions of Geertz can be considered essential on the basis that application can be perceived in different disciples, but it can be considered as an important contribution on a multidisciplinary point of view. In addition to the concept gathered, the presentation and the basis of summary and gathered information are more important matters that are needed to be undertaken.

One of the most vital notions is the presentation of these ideas that are established by C. Geertz. This can be attributed to the fact that his ideas are not limited to the field of anthropology but rather on other related areas as well. Generally his thoughts are in relation to the different behaviours and concepts that can be attributed to the human persons and the period of modern human civilization.

There are many concepts that he contributed which can be considered utilizable in the present society. One of the most important contributions of Geertz is the theory on the basis of the attempt to understand other people’s concepts and outlooks. His views were applied on the basis of different applications. These he undertake through the observation and in depth study of the behaviour of the population through the study of symbolism. This is the major concept that can describe his foresight in the studies he has undertaken. Another observation that can be considered significant in his presentations is the fact that his analysis of the human civilization is presented through an objective presentation of a specific culture (Geertz, 2000a).

Economic development for Geertz is based on the study of two Indonesian localities. One of his observations is that homogeneity in terms of the social system is important in the achievement of a functioning economic leadership that can support the people. According to him, upon the establishment of a functioning economic leadership, realization of the needs of the community and the people basically in the “ideological” or planning level is important (Geertz, 1963).

Geertz gave emphasis to the social factors such as culture, which he considered as a product of the input and interrelationship of a particular locality with the outside components of human civilization. This can mean that although culture can be considered by the majority as unique to a particular area, influences from other groups are still essential. It is also one of the key to be able to achieve economic development, which is the proper understanding of the culture and society (Geertz, 1963).

British Functionalism is another notion that can be related to the importance of dynamic approach in the study of the society. This can be attributed to the fact that compared to the static and more traditional functionalist approach, the dynamic approach is sensitive to the factors he considered essential such as symbolic cultural forms and social structure (Geertz, 1973).

These are few of the notions covered by the study of Geetrz through his life. His contributions can be considered important on the basis of the practicality and presentation of simple yet significant views.

Significance of Geertz Views

Basically the factors presented that he considered essential are the main issues that he targets to present the importance to the public. One is the symbolic cultural forms and another is the social structure which he perceived as the main key to the determination of the different occurrences in the society.

The cultural structuralism, according to him can be perceived as the factor that can explain the different problems and issues in the society such as violations, wars, etc. It is related to the concept of culture being on the basis of the interacting structures that can be based on the significance of a person such as the profession or other functions (Geertz, 1973; Geertz, 2000).

The said concept can be considered applicable on the basis that cultural structures are present even in the present generation. It can be less defined on the basis of the attempt of the people to achieve equality, but it is always there. This can be responsible to the different dynamics in the society, the resultant of the attempt to ignore cultural and social structuralism.

Another is the method of symbolic analysis. Geertz perceived the importance of the use of the said method since the society exists in the influence of symbolic representations. These representations can be found in every aspects of the society such as culture, traditions, etc. (Geertz, 1973; Geertz, 2000).

The importance of the symbols that he can perceive can be considered important in contrary to his critics. This can be attributed to the fact that symbolisms are everywhere. These symbols can even be observed and be considered indispensable. Even words and research are composed of symbolic representations.


The significance of the concepts presented by Geertz can be perceived on the basis of the view that he commonly used in the analysis of a wide variety of subject matters. Based on the study undertaken these notions are the importance of symbolic analysis and cultural structuralism.


  1. Geertz, C. (2000a) Available Light. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  2. Geertz, C. (2000b) Clifford Geertz: Culture, Custom and Ethics. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  3. Geertz, C. (1984) Distinguished Lecture: Anti Anti-Relativism. American Anthropologist 86, p. 263-278.
  4. Geertz, C. (1963) Peddlers and Princes: Social Change and Economic Modernization in Two Indonesian Towns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  5. Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.
  6. Windschuttle, K. (2002) The Ethnocentrism of Clifford Geertz. New Criterion, 21, 2002.
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